“This is what the Holy Roman Empire is all about: destroying people. Above all, it is a machine of destruction! That is what it is famous for.”
These words came from the illustrious Gerald Flurry in his September ’11 cover article World’s Greatest Danger: Germany
Domineers Over Europe Again.
I’ve been working on this article off and on since I first saw this article. I’ve done some research on the Holy Roman Empire, and found Flurry’s fear mongering wanting. Yes, Germany always wants an empire, but to be honest, so do most other nations. And there is a lot of talk about how the current Eurozone crisis may be giving Germany that empire right under everyone’s noses. Possible, though unlikely. But one thing is clear: the statement, “This is what the Holy Roman Empire is all about: destroying people…” is simply false.
He arrives at this conclusion via the application of Godwin’s Law. Since the Nazis were brutal destroyers of humanity (or at least the classes of humanity they didn’t like), and since the short-lived empire they formed was supposedly a resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire of old (which may well have been the Fuhrer’s dream—more on this later), then that means the HRE is a machine of destruction. Right…
I was, for a time, worried that this was going to be a bit of a “boring” history paper, and to explain how the Trumpet is wrong in this particular will require some history; but the more I read of Flurry’s article the more interesting my article got! People fear what they don’t understand. It is my purpose to help everyone understand, so that they can sleep the sound sleep of those who do not have Tribulation nightmares.
So far as we are concerned here, the first Holy Roman Empire was started under Charlemagne. Charlemagne (French), or Charles the Great (German) was a Frankish King way back in the late 700’s C.E. He was crowned “Emperor of the Romans” in 800 after protecting the Pope (and Papal Lands) from invading Lombards (Italians). He was, by all accounts, a true believer and devout Catholic who protected the Vicar of Christ, in addition to inheriting a rather large European Empire; so as recognition of all this, the Pope crowned him Emperor. And why Emperor of the Romans (thus making his empire the Holy Roman Empire)? Because the greatness that was Rome (and the actual Roman Empire) was not such a distant memory and everyone wanted to be the Emperor of Rome even hundreds of years later.
But yes, our buddy Charles has been made infamous (for us in the church) as a conquering butcher who went about converting
with the sword. W/PCG made it sound as if he was going around doing a very serious version of Cake or Death. Yes, he did conquer lands inhabited by Pagans, and he forced them to convert to Christianity. But to make such a big deal of it is the same as saying, “many years ago, there was this horrible, dastardly, deceitful Used Car Salesman named Dave who would swindle the people! Dave was truly a man without a conscience, delighting in fixing up the cars he sold just well enough that they’d pass the test drive!” Well, sure, Dave was a dirty fellow, but no worse than any other used car salesman. Any Christian King who conquered Pagan lands automatically exacted conversion from the populace. Either they really believed that theirs was the superior religion, or it was simply the pragmatic thing to do, as nothing is more divisive than religious differences—so make them convert and thus unify your conquests with your home territories.
But Charlemagne wasn’t just about “converting by the sword”; he brought learning and scholarship back to Europe to such a degree it is known as the Carolingian Renaissance! Knowing the CoGs’ aversion to any kind of education outside of church lit, maybe that’s the reason they demonize him to such a degree! Lol.
The “historical” Holy Roman Empire
When you look up Holy Roman Empire, it is pretty well accepted that it didn’t really get established and settled until the crowning of King Otto I in 962 (and lasts until 1806). Also, it wasn’t called “Holy” until 1157 when the name of the Roman Empire was officially changed, and then in 1512 it became Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. So, again (back in 962) a Pope was in dire straits from conquering enemies, and again turned to our fierce German friends (even though the once mighty Frankish Empire had largely collapsed into a loose association of semi-independent kinglets).
So, Pope John XII crowns Otto Emperor of the Romans if he will get rid of the invaders (a little quid pro quo never hurt anyone…). Additionally, Otto needs to “endorse” John as the real Pope, as apparently this was an era of Popes and Antipopes—whoever won the contest was the Pope and the loser the Antipope.
However, this is where it gets interesting. Back in this time period (962-1060 approx), the newly crowned Roman Emperors felt they had power above the pope, and so would dismiss the ones they didn’t like (usually by endorsing and helping an antipope). So, you see, the Holy Roman Empire was not a tool of the Pope as Armstrong (and Flurry, etc) would have us believe! The German Emperors would fight the Pope just as often as protect him!
The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation is an important part of European history. It was a very long-lived Empire that was pretty big (covering either in whole or in part a total of 17 modern European nations). When unified, it was a force to be reckoned with. But it was not this monster the church taught us it was. It wasn’t going around conquering and killing everything in sight. Its kings were even elected. Sure, there were long family dynasties, where the sons were always elected (by the Princes who controlled certain key provinces), but if there was a superior claimant, he could very easily be elected over the son of the previous King/Emperor.
Impressive and worthy of note though it was, it was not the Empire as led by Darth Vader and The Emperor. French philosopher Voltaire even once opined, “This agglomeration which was called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire”. This was probably said, in part, on account of the Empire’s very fractured nature. At many periods in its existence it was more like the United States under the Articles of Confederation; it was more like a collection of semi-independent duchies (sometimes hundreds of them) than a British, or even Roman style empire.
So, not to belabor the point…this empire lasted until 1806, when naught but a shadow of its former Glory, it is under threat from Napoleon. In order to frustrate Napoleon’s ambition to become Holy Roman Emperor by defeating Austria (really the only nation the “Empire” ruled over), Emperor Francis II dissolves the Empire and declares himself merely Emperor of Austria.
Rather a pitiful end for what started out as a mighty power.
What’s it all mean??
So, what about all this talk of a “resurrected” HRE? And, specifically, the church is meaning the HRE of the German Nation. Well, you see, there is this medieval concept of translatio imperii. The long and the short of it was it lent legitimacy to the current King/Kingdom. It is as if the US were to collapse (along with a general collapse of the current society), future rulers in Canada and Mexico and maybe even England would claim (hundreds of years later) to be the new President of the United States of America, carrying on the ideals of Truth, Justice, and the American Way.
But, of course, when your head is filled with Image of Daniel and the idea that the Holy Roman Empire can be endlessly resurrected (since the “Stone cut without hands” (JC) didn’t come down and crush it when it actually existed), and when you think the Germans are actually the ancient Assyrians (who seem to be God’s favorite “Israel Bashing” people) who God will use to crush Anglo-American modern-day Israel (both German-Assyrianism and Anglo-Israelism we’ve debunked here and here)…well, then you tend to get a bit uppity about every bit of news coming out of Europe.
Of course, a bit of “end o’ times” fear mongering is also good for the bank account. And when you look at the actual history of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, and hold that up against the statement “This is what the Holy Roman Empire is all about: destroying people. Above all, it is a machine of destruction! That is what it is famous for.”, then you can clearly see something isn’t right.